Why astronauts are susceptible to common infections
Washington: Researchers have found that living in space weakens astronauts` immune systems.
The findings are providing clues on how to tackle diseases on Earth before symptoms appear.
Ever since the first humans ventured into space we have known that astronauts can suffer from common infections that would be quickly dealt with by healthy people on Earth.
Until now, it was not clear what was blocking astronauts` immune systems from working normally.
In 2006, ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter performed an experiment on the International Space Station using ESA`s Kubik space incubator. A batch of human immune cells was allowed to float in microgravity while another was held in a centrifuge to simulate gravity. The cells were preserved for analysis back on Earth.
The cells that experienced simulated gravity as if on Earth were found to be in good health compared to their weightless equivalents.
By comparing the samples, investigators saw what was stopping the immune cells from working properly. A specific transmitter in the immune cells, called the Rel/NF-?B pathway, stops working in weightlessness.
"Normally, when our bodies sense an invasion, a cascade of reactions occur that are controlled by the information held in our genes, similar to an instruction book," explained Isabelle Walther, an investigator based in Zurich, Switzerland.
"Finding which gene does what is like looking for the right key to fit a keyhole, without having found the keyhole yet," she stated.
Studying cells that have flown on the International Space Station is putting researchers on the right path to finding the key to how our immune system works. Comparing samples is showing them where to look to find which genes instruct our immune cells to react to diseases, and how.
"We are working towards a finer control of disease," said Millie Hughes-Fulford, NASA astronaut and a investigator on this experiment.
This research could help to tackle two types of disease. Stopping genes that activate our immune system would help to relieve people suffering from autoimmune diseases such as arthritis. The pharmaceutical industry could find the genes that need be active to fight specific illnesses and market tailored antibodies.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Reservation issue: Police register case against Bainsla, 20 others
- Zee Media exclusive chat with 'Welcome to Karachi' cast
- Zee Media exclusive interview with Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar
- UP Minister allegedly threatens, abuses Gonda businessman
- Manali: Heavy corruption found in environmental taxes
- Watch: Fast N Facts @ 7:30pm
- Aapke Sitare: Astro prediction for May 24, 2015
- One year of Modi govt: How satisfied is the common man?
- Five unmanned parachutes spotted over Mumbai airport
- UP: Jammu-bound Muri Express derails in Kaushambi
- Jaipur girl Mini Rajpal wins Miss India Deaf 2015!
- Mumbai architecture creates double decker bus from scrap!
- One year of Modi govt: How satisfied is the common man? Part-2
- CBSE Board Class 12th Exam Results 2015 declared
- Dawood's intercepted phone calls prove yet again he is in Pakistan
- IPL 2015 Final: MI vs CSK - As it happened...
- CBSE.nic.in 12th XII Results 2015: CBSE Board (cbseresults.nic.in) Class 12th XII Exam Results 2015 to be announced on May 25
- Heatwave continues in North India; death toll in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana more than 400
- IPL 2015 final: Mumbai Indians thrash Chennai Super Kings by 41 runs to lift second title
- Death threat to PM Narendra Modi ahead of Mathura rally sends police into tizzy
- Kejriwal completes 100 days in office, AAP says centre 'shadow boxing' over row with LG
- Check cbseresults.nic.in for CBSE Class 12 result 2015
- LIVE - Cbse.nic.in & cbseresults.nic.in Class 12th XII Results 2015: CBSE Board Class 12th XII Exam Results 2015 to be announced shortly
- Online filing of applications for UPSC civil services exam begins
- Heatwave claims over 550 lives so far, Delhi saw hottest day
- Not just today, Muslims feeling alienated since 1947: Najma Heptulla
- Police register case against Bainsla, 20 others as Gujjar agitation continues
- CBSE Class 12 results out: Here's how you can check
- Pakistan criticizes Defence Minister Parrikar's terrorism remarks
- Mathura rally: PM Modi slams 'corrupt' UPA regime, lauds NDA govt's efforts in past one year